Police investigate ‘fraud’ at household waste and recycling centre in Bristol
New measures introduced to ensure security
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Police are investigating allegations of fraud at a household waste and recycling centre on the edge of Bristol, it has emerged. The allegations centre on Bristol Waste’s Avonmouth site.
The city council and its waste company are cooperating with inquiries and have handed over evidence to detectives. Councillors were told on Friday, March 3, that Avon and Somerset Police were probing the allegations, which date back to 2020.
Bristol Waste has issued a statement. It said it has taken immediate action and introduced “new measures to ensure security” at the depot in Kings Weston Lane after the suspected corruption was reported.
It comes after Bristol City Council admitted “very serious concerns” about the future of the firm, which is having to cut services such as street-cleansing, shut the city’s tips two days a week and increase charges for garden recycling collections among a raft of cost-saving measures.
A Bristol Waste spokesperson said: “Back in 2020 we became aware of possible fraudulent activity within one of our depots. Immediate action was taken, and all evidence was submitted to the police. The case is currently under a live police investigation.
“Following the reports, we implemented a number of new measures to ensure security at the site which have proven to be effective.”
An Avon & Somerset Police spokesperson said: “We can confirm there is an ongoing investigation into alleged fraud at a waste depot in Avonmouth. Enquiries continue and Bristol Waste is assisting with our investigation.”
Deputy mayor Cllr Craig Cheney said: “Reports of possible fraudulent activity have been passed to the police and we will continue to support their current investigation.
“Whilst we recognise that Bristol Waste has introduced new measures to guard against the potential for fraudulent activity at their sites, we expect the company to continue to remain vigilant and take immediate action where necessary.”
Bristol City Council overview and scrutiny management board (OSMB) chairman Cllr Tony Dyer told members: “The purpose of today’s meeting is to scrutinise the Bristol Waste business plan that is in front of us.
“However, it has been brought to my attention that there are reports regarding allegations of fraud and other inappropriate activity related to Bristol Waste’s operations.
“I have been informed by the chief executive that some of the allegations are still being investigated and some have been passed to the police and are now subject of an investigation which is being supported by Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste.
“I am sure that members will understand that until investigations are complete it would be inappropriate for us to discuss this matter further but OSMB members will also expect to be kept informed of the situation given the importance of Bristol Waste’s operations to this organisation and the residents we were elected to represent.”
Bristol City Council chief executive Stephen Peacock told the meeting: “There was a report that went to audit committee in July 2022 that contained reference to the alleged fraud that is subject to an ongoing investigation.
“Bristol Waste will provide to the audit committee a comprehensive assurance statement in July and OSMB members are very welcome to either put that piece on their work plan or attend the committee.
“In previous years Bristol Holding, which looks after the shareholder’s [Bristol City Council’s] interest in the companies, has provided on behalf of all the companies an annual review of the [Bristol Holding] audit & risk committee.
“So I just wanted to be clear that there is a route via which matters such as that are raised in exempt sessions where appropriate, through the shareholder and through the formal route to the audit committee.”
The report to last July’s audit committee Mr Peacock was referring to was the final page of an appendix on the agenda titled “Bristol City Council Trading Companies Annual Audit and Assurance Report” by Bristol Holding group finance director Chris Holme and did not specifically mention Bristol Waste.